Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Field Negro Dilemma

"Nothing a white man with a penny hates more than a nigger with a nickel" ~~Chris Rock~~

I know this very old gentleman in Louisiana, who does very well for himself. He dropped out of school in the eight grade to work in the fields, and while working as a farm hand for a very wealthy white family he taught himself auto mechanics by working on farm tractors and other equipment.

So this man eventually started his own automotive business and became very well to do. Although watching the way he lived, you would never know it. I once asked him why he lived such a spartan existence in spite of his obvious wealth, and he told me somtething that reminded me of the Chris Rock joke. "I can't got around here acting like I have more money than my white customers, hell, they would never come back to my business."

Anyway, I thought about that man and the Chris Rock joke again while debating a white blogger on Maryscott's excellent web site, My Left Wing. There I was again caught up in a debate with someone from the majority population ("every time I try to get out, they pull me back in") about the same sh**, that we argue about every time. If it's not, "why do you call yourself the field negro, that is so 1950's? Or why don't you people stop playing the victim role and pull yourselves up by your boot straps? Racism does not exist anymore, it's all in your minds. " And so it goes, back and forth with people who don't get it and never will.

But then when you make the argument that you are not a victim, and that you are not some woe is me handkerchief head Negro, that's when you get the I know you are a "nigger with a nickel" argument, and that's when the venom really flies. Because what the f**k are you doing advocating for black causes on the Internet when you are one of the Negroes who made it? Hell, you might even make more money that I do Negro, so you got a whole lot of f*****g nerve crying racism and inequity in our society when your black ass made it. So you see the Catch 22 here, you can't win if you are a field Negro with house Negro money, or a house Negro comfort level. If you have house Negro money you should think like the house Negro and not care about Negroes who are left behind in the fields. Because after all, you could be in the house too, you just choose to be in the fields.

What these narrow minded individuals don't and will never get, is that as a person of color I don't see myself as just an individual; I see myself as being part of a larger group, a collective. And because of the f****d up way we are in this society, so does every one else.
Don't tell me that every black person in this country wasn't on pins and needles when the shooting went down at Virginia Tech. From Oprah, to Colin Powell, to Condi Rice, they were all saying; "please Lord don't let this shooter be a Negro." And yep, my black ass was saying it too. How do you think I felt when I found out that one of the D.C. snipers was not only black, but was a Jamaican to boot. A double whammy for the field. It's why black folks who couldn't stand O.J.'s house Negro ass cheered like crazy when he was found not guilty, even though Helen Keller could see that the mother f****r did it. Its that collectivism that drives white folks and some black folks crazy. But the sad thing is, that they view us as a collective as well. Don't for a minute think that the black thug pictured on the front page of the local paper, who assaulted the little old lady, is any different than field Negro, attorney, in the majority population's eyes . Ask Oprah, her black ass got shaded in a high end department store just like Shanequa from North Philly. Why? Because her ass is black that's why, and she is a part of the collective. Yeah Oprah, your black ass might be worth a billion, but when that store clerk sees you coming, she still sees a black person first.

But can you imagine if Oprah was in a chat room and trying to agitate or make an argument in support of black people? "Oprah how dare you say there are problems in America, you are worth billions, you have more money than I ever will and I am white." Hey America can't be all that bad, your black ass seems to be doing alright." All the time Ignoring the fact that Oprah is one out of 13 million.

"Oh field Negro, you are just playing the angry black man role, what do you have to be angry about? You seem to be doing pretty well yourself. Stop playing the victim, you are not a victim buddy, you probably make more money than I do."

But let me paraphrase my man, potential baby daddy, Chris Rock again: "So do you want to trade places with me 'Charlie' since I make more money that you do? Ahhh no field, I think I will stick this white thing out".

Yeah, that's what I thought.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm glad it isn't just me, then. I'm here to tell you, it makes no difference what color you are or how much money you have, racism is here and it is wrong. Everyone has a moral obligation to oppose racism. Everyone. Not just the most obvious victims.

People who argue otherwise are simply concern trolls of one form or another.

Rock on, field.

Anonymous said...

thot I'd come over and check out your house. Dude, not much has changed in the white liberal world since roughly forever. All good intentions. The same ones which pave the road to you know where.

Just wanted to say the second part of your "Four White males" essay on MLW was narrative art. That voice of yours is something special. I didnt want to Leonard Bernstein you with repeated loveletters at the white liberal cocktail party but here I will state it again: excellent writing.

Anonymous said...

thanks donkeytale, and thanks for getting my back at MLW; you are one of the good guys.

Oh, donkeytale, meet neil bitch.He is one angry white man. I swear he would get banned even by Maryscott. But he too is one of the good guys :)


Dangerfield said...

Yo Field excellent article.

roysol said...

Hey field, I doubt that neil bitch would get banned at MLW, and I say that without having read anymore than the one comment here. It's one of the main reasons that I post there.

Per the gun control discussion in your prior essay, you might find this discussion from Progressive Historians, interesting.


Kip said...

You are judged by your race and ethnicity look at it like this before the one drop blood rule came into effect many creoles and mulattoes blacks in Louisiana lived free like whites. They also, owned businesses, were educated, had their unique communities and culture. Then came the phony fake one drop blood rule and then they were labeled black and lost their status – and where considered black and mistreated like blacks. That was an injustice and even till this day this goes on mulattoes and part white in some case more white than black. But are considered black and treated negatively like blacks even though they are mulattoes and creoles.

Some creoles and mulattoes (light skin blacks) can pass for white (there is no such thing as passing for white you pass because genetically you are white) and get treated good like a white person. It shows you are judge by your collective race. I don’t have race basically, people like me have been race- less but treated like blacks. You are judge by your race.

MartiniCocoa said...

isn't it
myopic to believe that a white american has the right to
decide what any minority should think and/or feel?

there seems to be a mind hurdle for many people that

1. minorities (yes, even African-Americans) can think for themselves
2. can act on what they think
3. don't need a white person's permission to do so

Field, Keep holding up the mirror to the ridiculousness.

Sooner or later, someone will get it or they will just slither away realizing that you won't be drinking their Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...


Another great post.

I am, in person, a quiet person. I feel no need to brag about my accomplishments. It's just not in my nature.

My close friend, the FN to her core, just loves to upset ' certain folk'. They don't 'get it'. How could she have 3 degrees, and be, um, ' so angry'.


When she really wants to get to them, she has me come around, and tells them about my background. I do admit, I get a chuckle from the momentary look of shock on their faces that they try and cover it up.

But, it's there.

And, it's there, from conservatives AND liberals.

Bringing your point back to the Presidential campaign and ' half and half man' ( I still can't stop LOL as I think of it).

IMO, part of the reason why the right wing has gone after his church so vehemently, is because it offends their sensibilities.

I know that Trinity puts out there that they have everyone there from the welfare recipient to the entrepreneur, but they're being generous.

It's a church full of ' Strivers', and as a Black radio talk show host said, ' those White folk went up in Trinity, and it blew their mind'. The mind was blown from the moment they saw all the obvious symbols of success in the parking lot. Then, they stepped into a multi-million dollar church building with a sanctuary that had the nerve to have a Black Jesus in stained glass staring back at you.

Inside, you saw a lot of attractive Black families, with none of the ' oh woe is me, Jesus' refrain that they have programmed into their minds as the prototype for the Black church.

Add into it, these Negroes have the nerve to not only be successful, but are choosing to reach back, instead of pulling the ladder up behind them.

Liberals don't like these Uppity Negroes because they don't fit THEIR stereotype of what we should be. After all, how dare you have success - on THEIR level?

Conservatives don't like these Uppity Negroes because how dare they get all of this success..AND ACTUALLY HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE? Don't you know that once you get the $$$$$$$, you're supposed to turn your back on the less fortunate, like they do? They just knew, that once there was a more successful Black middle class, they would just abandon their less fortunate brethren without a second thought. That they haven't, for the most part, politically, just confounds them, and PISSES THEM OFF!

Good post, FN.

C-dell said...

I tell you I feel where you are coming from on this. We make our own way,but that doesn't mean much. Like my man Kanye said "even if you in a Benz you still a nigga"

Anonymous said...

So do you want to trade places with me 'Charlie' since I make more money than you do? Ahhh no field, I think I will stick this white thing out".


The Gospel according to field!

T.C. Dipped said...

FN, the current Movie of the Day (Body Double) is killin me!

Good piece and my thoughts exactly. This blog is one of my first stops when I come online.

field negro said...

Ghost face, correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe you are a brother of mixed race. So thanks for your perspective. Trust me, I went to school, and spent lots of time in Louisiana, so I understand the whole one drop rule thing. Aa well as the interesting dynamic with the creoles, and the passe blanc movement to places like California. (whew, that's a whole other post for another day)

roysol, thanks for the link, and thanks for checking in. MLW in the house! BTW, I have nothing but love for all you guys over there, even the haters ;)

I am not star jones, and rikyrah, we are here~~~that's my hand tapping my head~~I am feeling you.

Thanks c-dell and Francis. Welcome t.c. dipped, you are too kind with your words.

But I am not worthy, it's our President you should be thanking for giving us so much material :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Roysol, but if you had read my other writings, you'd know that I'd be banned from just about anywhere. I make an effort to keep it down for the field so I don't give anyone an excuse to diss him for what happens in the comments thread.

I've given the field's thesis a bit more thought, and my position is that one does not have have been robbed to be against robbery. One does not have to have been murdered to be opposed to murder. There is no requirement to have been a victim to be opposed to crime. People who imply that sort of crap are working to stifle the perfectly appropriate criticisms of their crimes. Make no mistake, they are criminals, and they KNOW they are criminals. They just don't want YOU to say so in public and stir up all manner of support among the 80% who know nothing other than what they see on the teebee.

It's a bit pathetic, I know, but Dog's Own Merkin Paradise Here On Earth is not significantly different than any other place. Most people just want to be left alone to live their lives with minimal interference. We who come to the field's place are interested in how things are run, and we make up maybe 5% of the population. Our power, and we do have power, is the power to appeal the basic human decency of the 80%. The criminals fear that because without at least tacit support from the 80%, they have no legitimacy and without legitimacy (or the appearance of it), they are simple thugs. And we know how to deal effectively with thugs.

To the field: Thank you George "Anybody know where the hell I was in 1972?" Bush for the opportunity of refighting this shit all over again. Maybe we'll get it right this time.

Srsly, I love you, man.

-=Topper=- said...

It isn't the success, it isn't the Benz. Money doesn't by happiness that is a given.

A successful angry black man was used to me by a white guy in introducing his friend.

I asked later why he thought his black friend was angry. The responce is disheartening as much as it is predictable, "it's his fault, it's all their faults", it's BULLSHIT!

Feild could correct me if I'm wrong and I would accept but I take it that they are angry at a perception white people do not see.

It is a road paved with obstacles ( and we know them all ) and the road for the white man, is just a road.

As I told my friend "couldn't he be angry because he's had to crawl, where you just climb?".

He didn't accept that but gave the tired cliche routine again.

We try, oh how we try.

I am trying to build a forum for the purposes of this disscussion under my blog...


Anonymous said...


thanks for the information about Southern. Didn't know all that was happening. Those folks need to stop staining the school and get-to-steppin'.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Hey, Field:

OT, but, I have a suggested individual for your "House Negro of the Day" section.

Her name is Amy Holmes and she is advertised as a "conservative blogger". I caught her schtick on Bill Maher's "Real Time" on HBO over the weekend, and all she did was support the mess which is the Iraq war, and mouth off about how Bush is right. Think Ward Connerly in female form (although she is a good-looking sista); heck, she could be Connerly's daughter.

Do a Google search if you have time; she's truly a sickened member of the race. She's disagreeing with William Buckley on the Iraq War - and that problem is, Buckley's conceeded that the Iraq War is lost.

JMO, the sista should get a look for "House Negro of the Day".

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Excuse me, she's a conservative columnist/writer...

wst... said...

according to amy holmes entry at the notable names database:

Born: c. 1973

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Columnist, Activist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: BET host, conservative commentator

Former speechwriter for Senator Bill Frist.

Boyfriend: Lloyd Grove

University: BA Economics, Princeton University (1994)

field negro said...

Thanks guys, I am familiar with Ms. Holmes. (Yes, she is a dime!)

Funny, I never really tought of her as a HN, as she was really strong in her belief that Don Imus should be let go.

But you might be right, I am going to have to do some research on girlfriend and get back to you on this one.

Yo "topper", shoot me an e-mail and let me know when you start that forum on your blog.

Woozie said...

A BET host AND a conservative commentator? Talk about an Israeli Nazi Party.

Anyway, great post. It's unfortunate we gotta think of ourselves as a collective...

Anonymous said...

It's Liz from I Speak of Dreams.

You said, "What these narrow minded individuals don't and will never get, is that as a person of color I don't see myself as just an individual; I see myself as being part of a larger group, a collective..

As a middle-aged WASP woman, I probably am narrow-minded. But I would say, "You don't know what you take for granted, until it is taken away -- or somebody forcefully points out what it is you can and do take for granted.

I struggle with the reality of the collective. It doesn't come naturally to me -- I don't have that unconscious response when white women do stupendously stupid or criminal things; as I'm not religous, I don't have that response when a Christian does stupendously stupid or criminal things; I don't have even have that unconscious response when my kids do tremendously stupid things (none have yet committed, or at least been charged, with crimes).

Shanti said...

a couple of years back around the time of the 2004 elections i heard a radio interview with chris rock and he said something else that fits well with this post. he was asked if he voted republican for tax purposes since he makes so much money. his response was something like "no, everybody else in my family is still broke so there's no point in me screwing them over and voting republican. voting for the party that helps them helps me because the worst off they are the more i gotta kick out financially for them anyway." at the time it was a joke but like most of his jokes there was a lot of truth and political awareness in the statement.

oh and by the way, you have a great blog. just got turned on to it a couple of days ago and i've already sent a link to another friend.

Christopher Chambers said...

I don't think it's as much of an issue as you think. I think black people who have some means and the common sense to keep it (in other words, no lottery winners, drug dealers or folks with 6K sq foot houses in suburban Atlanta but no furniture other than a flat screen TV and an Escalade) vote indeed according to the purses but it's tempered by other issues.

The problem I see regards so-called Christians voting with the right wing white Evangelicals, which makes no sense to me. Over what--queers and abortion and stem cells? Damn if you think allying with those dangerous folk over bullsh*t issues like that is worth it, then I don't want your ass in my tribe anyhow.

On the other side of the coin, I cannot stand these supposed Field Negroes who seem to excuse, bask in or enjoy the current prison/stripperHip Hop culture under scrutiny now. People of means and education need to grab the "stop snitch" crew by their vintage NBA jerseys and say look, the future of our people lays in staying in school, becoming managers, professionals, makers of things, not consumers of horsesh*t. For that, we dont need to apologize or incentivize, and if folks are too stubborn, dumb or mean to see what the future hold, to hell with them. 2000 years from now they'll be the cavemen m-fs who the gorillas hunt down from Planet of the Apes...

Sorry but I didn't have my cereal this morning!

Christopher Chambers said...

PS-I met Amy Holmes at a Princeton alumni event at a hotel here inDC. The brothers were fawning all over her until she opened her mouth. They still fawned. But then the few with some sense LISTENED. Most said aw hell no, but one misfit--yes one of these supposedly holy,churchgoing brothas--oh he stuck around until she told him she was taken!!!

She has been crazy since she worked for Dick Cheney's wife at the IWF...

Iraqi Mojo said...

"he thought himself auto mechanics "

I am taking a guess here and thinking you meant "taught" instead of "thought". :) nice blog btw, i hate the verification idea on comments, so will not comment again. take care.

Anonymous said...

barabie, you are absolutely right, and I will correct that now. Chalk it up to my haste when I blog and my lack of proof-reading :)

Hey, please comment again, you remind me of my mom, I need you word wathcers around here.

And don't let a little word verification get in the way of a good conversation.

field negro said...

Damn Chris! And I thought that was all T.V. making girlfriend look so good. Good looking out.

Thanks again barabi,someone actually e-mailed me last night about that, they had used the post as a link and noticed it. Lazy me never got around to changing it.

I know I write with my tongue in my cheeks, and with some double entendres from time to time, but that was clearly the wrong place for that word.

Thanks again!

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

She has been crazy since she worked for Dick Cheney's wife at the IWF...

Chris, you just confirmed that I wasn't imagining things when I saw her on "Real Time with Bill Maher".

He proceeded to tear a strip off her, and the Governor of Montana, Brian Schwartzer, simply broke out and poured a six pack can of whip-ass on her every time she opened her mouth.

Field, now I have to start lobbying for this sista to get House Negro of the Month award. The fact she used to take a paycheck from Dick Cheney (yeah, she worked for his wife, but still)already let me know she's a straight up loony House Negress.

She's flying under the radar and that makes her worse than a Water Moccasin. A rattlesnake lets you know when it's going to strike; a water moccasin sneaks up and is on your ass before you can even scream...

field negro said...

Alright "christian progressive liberal." between your lobbying, and Christopher's journalistic work; I think we have our next HNOTD :)

Hathor said...

Enjoyed your post about pets. I've just found your site through credo's link. Sometimes, I thought it just me, because I would be the only one defending my view on the blog. You don't have to be well to do to be accused of racism, playing the race card, being the victim or being ignorant. You just have to have to be opposing what they say about black people or mention that they chose black people for their example to prove their point. You also have to buy into the rehabilitation of the south and acceptance of the confederate flag. For the conservatives; to be a "good negro," you have to agree with them.

a neighbor

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

04 25 07

Glad to know you and Cobb get along FN. He is a real Black progressive, as are you. You see, I don't care what side of the political divide one is on; politics are only a means to an end. Ultimately I am concerned about end results and appreciate that you are on one side, Cobb is on the other side AND success for US is somewhere inbetween:)

Iraqi Mojo said...

Remind you of your MOTHER??? I don't if i should take that as a compliment or not? :) although you are right i am a natural word watcher. I even used to correct my teachers starting from around the age of 10. Don't ask me why btw. You have a nice way of responding to commentators and that has prompted me to comment again even though as i said, the verification system normally prevents me from commenting again. So i guess what i am trying to say is your blog is soooooo good that i forgive the verification. ;)

Dangerfield said...

I like gwen Ifill

Dangerfield said...

I see Gwen Ifill on my lunchbreak sometimes. She does her thing. She deserves to be a Field Negro.

field negro said...

"...I don't if i should take that as a compliment or not? :) "

barabie, please take that as a compliment, it was definately meant to be one.

And please keep coming back to the fields;word watchers are always welcome.

BTW, if you don't want to embarrass me in front of my fellow commentors, shoot me an e-mail at :)

Yo Mark, I am glad you like Gwen Ifill. I know we don't always agree on who is or isn't a FN, but I think we can both agree that Ifill is in the FN camp.

Iraqi Mojo said...

fn i apologize if you felt embarrassed but that was certainly not my intention. ;)

Iraqi Mojo said...

fn we all make those same sort of mistakes, even i but now you point it out, it's obvious how one could feel embarrassed. Again sorry.

Iraqi Mojo said...

""I can't got around here acting like I have more money than my white customers, hell, they would never come back to my business.""

That pretty much sums up the racism in this world, whether in the US or here in Australia. btw i have travelled throughout the US and found Australia to be more racist but then again i may be biased.

Iraqi Mojo said...

"I have written articles for The Philadelphia Daily News, USA Today,and the Philadelphia Tribune.Thank God for spell check!"

How about thanking the poor guy/girl who sat there writing the program for the spell check?
just fooling around, don't take it seriously.
i just feel god gets enough thanks.
ok the above was meant as humor before anyone jumps down my throat.

field negro said...

Thanks barabie, although I wasn't really embarrased. I have no shame ;)

Australia huh? Now that's way cool "Mate". said...

Take a look at the hunchback of John McCAIN T shirt, the SS Titanic McCAIN T shirt and mousepad at

Please answer this political opinion poll. Go to

You can watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann at

Anonymous said...

Malcolm X on Dr. King

“He got the peace prize, we got the problem. ... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”

Anonymous said...

Malcolm X on Dr. King

“He got the peace prize, we got the problem. ... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”